Acas warns firms of the need to consider age discrimination

Conciliation service Acas has urged employers to address age-related policies now as it released its guidelines for tackling age discrimination in the workplace.

The final draft of the age discrimination regulations, due to come into force in October, was published last month and Acas chairperson Rita Donaghy said the clock is ticking. “A lot of organisations are under the impression that the regulations will not affect them – this simply is not true,” she said.

Acas’ guide covers issues such as training, equal opportunities, recruitment, promotion, benefits and redundancy – the last of which is a key area of concern for employers.

The regulations in their current form would mean employers that do not operate a statutory redundancy policy could be found to be discriminatory, even if they offer enhanced benefits.

Employers can operate the same age bands as the statutory schemes, but if they do anything differently they will have to ‘objectively justify’ their actions.

Many organisations have revamped their redundancy schemes in advance of the legislation, but may yet find that they are exposed to risk

Sam Mercer, director at Employers Forum on Age, which worked with Acas to formulate its guidelines, said: “We’ve had more calls on redundancy than anything else in the regulations. The DTI did not sufficiently research this.”

Acas guidelines (pdf)

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